11/13/2014 04:41 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Gay Acceptance Is Rising Globally, Study Says

Tim Macpherson via Getty Images

Around the world, it's getting more acceptable to be gay.

A new study says that acceptance of homosexuality has grown in 90 percent of countries surveyed over the last 20 years.

According to findings by social researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago and the LGBT think-thank Williams Institute at UCLA, acceptance rose an average of .9 percent annually by nation.

"This study shows a clear trend toward increasing acceptance across the globe,” Andrew Park, director of International Programs at the Williams Institute, said in a statement.

Researchers ranked countries in northwestern Europe as the most accepting, "followed by the following clusters of countries: Australia/Canada/New Zealand/United States, Southern European countries, Latin American countries, former Soviet Union/Eastern & Central Europe, Asian countries, African countries, and majority Muslim countries."

Even within continents, attitudes varied greatly, research showed. For instance, in Africa, two percent of Ghanians accept gays and lesbians, compared to 38 percent of South Africans.

Researchers reached their conclusions by examining the results of hundreds of surveys on attitudes toward gay men and lesbians in up to 52 countries since 1981, the study noted.

The report, "Public Attitudes toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights across Time and Countries," follows a recent study that indicated religious acceptance of gays is also on the rise.

Click here for the full Williams/NORC report.

H/T Towleroad